How Smart is Too Smart?: How Privacy Concerns Threaten Modern Energy Infrastructure

Megan McLean · 18 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 4

Abstract

Smart meters are integral to the health of our electric grid and are critical to a reliable, affordable, and efficient energy economy. Yet, collection of smart meter data is raising privacy concerns that are inspiring pockets of resistance to smart meter installation around the country. The fact that these data, like many other kinds of personal information, can and often do flow to the government should not prevent their collection and use. It is critical for environmental and energy regulators to have access to this data to maximize the potential of our energy system. On the state level, several legislatures and Public Utility Commissions (PUCs) have enacted a variety of rules and regulations designed to balance privacy concerns with smart grid goals. But by looking beyond trade-offs between privacy and smart meter installation, this Note recognizes an opportunity to protect reasonable expectations of privacy without hampering the ability of the smart grid to reach its full potential. This can be accomplished by shifting the conversation from regulation of smart meter installation to regulation of smart data distribution.